Thomas Donaldson

Artists Work
During the twelve months he spent at Highgreen Thomas explored both the details of everyday rural life such as work boots left on a doorstep and the features that play a larger role in the north Northumbrian landscape (but no less taken for granted); the sheep, dry stone walls, snow, trees and sky.

Thomas’s paintings show his joy in painting; the mark making, the pure colour and the playing with the surface. He has a refreshingly non-reverential and playful attitude to his paintings. He will put a painting outdoors for a period of time, enjoying leaving to chance what the weather will do to the surface of the painting. Luminous and flourescent paint mean that ‘cows in a field’ (a typically picturesque scene) only become visible in the dark. As well as encouraging us to look afresh at familiar objects and scenes he also makes us reassess our expectations of what fine art painting should be. With his digitally manipulated photographs, as with his paintings, Thomas focuses our attention on particular characteristics of an object. Sheep are given a soft wispy appearance so they become almost part of the sky all around them, the colour of a barn door and bucket are heightened. We find we see the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Work in the Community
Humshaugh First School had been in touch interested in working with an artist. And Thomas Donaldson devised a project with the teacher that involved a walk with cameras taking photographs of details of their village which were then developed, scanned and reduced to outline images for painting. Some wonderful large bright paintings resulted which hang in the school’s hall. Thomas, like Karen and Sonja before him, welcomed a group of first year Fine Art students from Newcastle University to Highgreen for an intensive 3 day residential workshop. With Thomas students used the full 3 days to gather material (with cameras, sketchbooks and recording equipment) that fed into their work back at University. Also from Newcastle, a class of thirty children from the inner-city school of St Charles RC First School visited Highgreen in 2003 for a full day’s arts activity with Thomas Donaldson; an experience that made a big impact on them all.